Lybster to Golspie – 42 miles
Again sticking close to the east coast and again spent the first 40 mins stopping to adjust our seats. Since the advice (from Team Sky, I think) that even a mm too low can affect your knees, I have been checking and re checking and my seat is now almost 2 cms higher than it was when we started – but my knees do feel better. Wonder if others find the same – that your legs seems to be able to stretch longer as you cycle further.
Pete’s Dad, Anthony, had said, “make sure you don’t break down in Helmsdale” and now we were about to find out why. The gentle rolling hills gave way to increasingly longer, steeper and more swooping hills with hairpin bends as we crossed significant rivers culminating in Helmsdale – our very nice lunch stop.(Thank you Tide and Time!) and also celebrated our first new county as we moved out of Caithness into Sutherland. (Stopped at the Sutherland sign for all of 10 secs and, yes, you have guessed it, Pete came running back complaining he was smothered in midges 😊)
We were in the process of tackling the big hills when we met up with the very orange McJoggle Team raising funds for Ronald MacDonald House Charities. Of course they were cycling 140 miles a day rather than 40 but still we found some things in common, eg the hills, to chat about – we wish them ‘The very best of luck’.
A little before Helmsdale we moved from our very quiet A99 onto the larger A9, used by heavier vehicles. At this stage the road was quite narrow so it was very important for Pete and I either to stay very close together or to ride with a significant gap to make it easier for traffic to pass. There was, of course, a constant head wind that I was now finding tiring. We therefore changed so that I went behind and, while Pete continued playing with his cadence and heart rate, I was able to focus on perfecting the art of drafting. And it is quite true, if you can get it right you don’t seem to have to pedal much! Suits me!
These short days were our chance to fit in a bit of sight seeing and so we enjoyed popping in to Brora (Clynelish) Distillery. After a shaky start where we had to convince the sales person that Pete was over 15, things improved and we were offered a range of samples. This led to a lot of spluttering from me and prompted Pete to start one of those conversations about “peaty, smoky and wooded flavours”. Then along the road to Golspie and our first bike shop. Lindsay and Co might look like a toy shop cum haberdashers but it houses a bike store and workshop in the capable hands of Josh. Josh kindly made the time to reinflate our tyres and talk over the click that Pete has developed . A very useful bike stop for End to Enders.
It might have only been 42 miles but I was pleased to reach our B and B at the very comfortable Blar Mhor with a friendly welcome from Jordie and Irene. A bit of a rest, a shower and usual clothes washing and then out for wonderful haddock and chips at Trawlers and a good walk along the sea front and pier in the evening sun.